School is canceled for Sumner-Bonney Lake School District students Friday after bargaining between the district and paraeducators failed to yield a contract.
Both parties spent Thursday at the bargaining table as the clock ticked down to the 3 p.m. strike deadline set by the Sumner Paraeducator Association earlier this month.
“Picketing will begin Friday morning at each school location beginning at the normal school starting time for each school,” according to a press release by SPA on Thursday.
The teachers’ union, Sumner Education Association, voted Wednesday to not cross the picket line in the event of a strike by paraeducators.
Union members say their wages aren’t competitive with nearby districts and that paraeducators in Sumner-Bonney Lake are leaving as a result.
The district said in a statement on Thursday that it values its paraeducators.
“We’ve been working hard and bargaining in good faith with para association representatives since June, with the desire to reach a fair resolution that’s within our financial means. Unfortunately, even with the assistance of a state mediator, we have not yet come to an agreement. The District is committed to bargaining until we have an agreement,” the district stated.
SPA’s contract with the district expired Aug. 31 and bargaining has been ongoing since June.
The union of roughly 200 consists mostly of paraeducators and a handful of of licensed practical nurses, certified occupational therapy assistants and physical therapy assistants. Paraeducators serve a variety of roles, both in and out of the classroom, including assisting teachers and working one-on-one with students with specific needs.